I saw this one coming a mile away. To be fair, I didn’t see it coming *quite* like this – as soon as Elvis Andrus got on base in the 11th, I called an Andrus steal and a Josh Hamilton single to win it. Instead, it was a wild pitch with an infield single and some lackadaisical defense by Matt LaPorta. When you put 7 runs on the board in the first 3 innings and fail to add to your lead after that point, (yet again) stranding runners left and right, you get what you deserve. The Indians learned the hard way in Boston that you can’t take a tie game into the bottom of the 9th (or 11th as the case may be) and expect to win as a visitor against a powerful offense in a hitter’s park. The Indians had leads of 6-1, and 7-3 at times in this game and just couldn’t hold on.
I want to blame rust for Chris Perez’s blown save in the 9th, but I think that’s sort of a cop out. With two outs and the bases empty, he let Josh Hamilton on with a single, and pitched a meatball to Michael Young. Seriously – why exert the energy throwing that pitch? In the future just call time, ask someone to bring a batting tee out from the dugout, and let Young hit from that instead. Perhaps I’m just too mad to let anyone off the hook for this one, because there was plenty of blame to go around.
The one person that remains exempt from my wrath is Carlos Santana. While he could’ve done more to block that low pitch by Rafael Perez in the 11th (the one that allowed Andrus to get to second), the Indians never would’ve been in that position if it wasn’t for his 5 RBI. The last two nights he’s been on fire, and I hope he can keep it going for the rest of the series (heck, the rest of the season!) The entire starting lineup had at least one hit tonight except for Ezequiel Carrera and Austin Kearns. With 11 hits overall, the Tribe certainly did not have a problem getting people on base. It became a matter of failing to string hits together, or getting someone to execute with runners in scoring position.
Ubaldo Jimenez’s start seemed like it happened days ago; I almost forgot that he started this one tonight. He struggled at times, but still managed to work his way out of trouble on several occasions. He gave up 5 earned runs and 7 hits, striking out 7 and walking 3. Taking into account that his last start was last Saturday, and even that was the bizarre one inning affair after he’d already been traded, this wasn’t terrible. He kept a tough lineup at bay and gave the team a chance to win; unfortunately it wasn’t enough.
So even though the 11th inning wasn’t quite as bad as these defensive miscues by the Oakland Athletics against the Seattle Mariners last Tuesday, it was bad enough. Matt LaPorta should’ve been watching the runner, and not staring at the umpire. What’s the worst that could’ve happened? You make a wasted throw home because it turns out Hamilton was out anyway? Instead, you get caught flat footed as the Rangers win it in a walk-off.